eSIM vs iSIM: What’s The Difference [PROS & CONS]

iSIM is here to replace eSIM, and all while most people are still using traditional SIM cards in their phones. So what’s the deal? Let’s compare eSIM to iSIM and find out…

iSIM Is Here To Replace eSIM

SIM cards and SIM technology aren’t the most exciting topics, perhaps exciting around the same level as paint technology – or perhaps printers. But like paint (and to a lesser extent, printers), SIM technology is very important.

A SIM card, either eSIM or iSIM, is what makes your phone work, allows it to send and receive data, make calls and send texts. Without one, your phone would be effectively useless as a phone.

In a bid to push things forward and make physical SIM cards a thing of the past, Qualcomm, in partnership with Thales Group, has developed what its calling the iSIM.

And unlike traditional SIM cards, Qualcomm’s iSIM tech is built right into its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU, meaning no need for SIM trays and SIM tray tools.

Can I Get iSIM on My Phone Now?

eSIM vs iSIM: What’s The Difference [PROS & CONS]Pin

As of right now, the ONLY phones that will be able to run iSIM are ones that use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 CPU.

Qualcomm’s chip is the first to have its iSIM technology officially certified by the GSMA.

Announced at MWC 2023, Qualcomm confirmed the new iSIM will be fully compliant with the GSMA remote SIM provisioning standard.

What this means is simple: the subscriptions – your data plan and everything that comes with it – are remotely managed, like eSIM. For those that have been paying attention, you’ll remember that Vodafone, Qualcomm and Thales successfully demonstrated a smartphone that utilises iSIM back in 2022.

With advent of phones running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, iSIM is now ready to be deployed commercially inside phones, allowing consumers in the USA, UK, and Europe to ditch their physical SIM cards in favor of this new, fully integrated option.

eSIM vs iSIM: What’s The Difference?

eSIM vs iSIMPin


To better understand how an iSIM is different from an eSIM, let’s first cover off what an eSIM actually is and how it works.

eSIM or embedded SIM is a programmable chip embedded in the smartphone. It does everything a physical SIM card does, and it is carrier-independent and can be programmed to run on different networks easily.

With an eSIM-compatible device, activating a new connection and switching carriers is easier, as you just have to download and install a configuration file for your eSIM.

Mobile networks typically give the eSIM profiles as a QR code which you can scan and download to your device.

The end game of eSIM is to replace physical SIM cards in smartphones and other devices completely.

In the US, Apple iPhone 14 series launched with eSIM exclusively, making other smartphone manufacturers think about making their phones run exclusively on eSIM.

iSIM is an evolution of eSIM; let’s talk about that.


An iSIM, or integrated SIM, is a type of SIM technology that embeds the SIM functionality directly into the device’s processor.

This means that devices with iSIM will not require a physical SIM card and will be able to connect to different mobile networks using software rather than hardware.

iSIM offers enhanced security features and more space for additional applications compared to traditional SIM cards or eSIM.

It is believed that in the future, providing carriers and networks get onboard, iSIM will become the default method of managing phone users’ subscriptions inside the next few years.

iSIM Benefits vs eSIM

Beyond things like reducing waste, as you’ll no longer require a plastic SIM card, iSIM comes with a range of additional benefits. We’ve covered all of iSIM’s benefits in a dedicated post, so check that out if you want to know more.

But the main takeaways are pretty clearcut:

  1. iSIM requires far less space than eSIM;
  2. iSIM is more secure because it is directed integrated with the SoC, so it cannot be removed or tampered with;
  3. iSIM also comes with a Secure Processing Unit which adds an additional layer of protection;
  4. And, finally, iSIM does not require any power like eSIM and SIM cards.

Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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